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The Learning curve

One voice is all it takes

/ 12:12 AM February 25, 2017

The Marcos regime collapsed on this day 31 years ago. However, we now live in a world of “alternative facts” and that anomaly called historical revisionism. In an age where accurate information is readily available with a swipe on a touchscreen, many people will still choose what they want to believe. There is an abundance of primary sources discussing every factor, aspect and ramification of the people’s uprising that riveted the world’s attention from Feb. 22 to 25, 1986.

For example, in her book “Chronology of a Revolution,” Angela Stuart Santiago painstakingly sifted through thousands of pages and hundreds of hours of video and audio interviews to come up with an accurate, hour-by-hour account of the simultaneous events that transpired during Edsa I.

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It is undeniable that the gathering of about a million people on Edsa during those four days in February was a pivotal point in Philippine contemporary history. While arguments fly back and forth on whether Edsa I qualifies as a revolution, there is no debate that what those Filipinos did back then was a selfless act of courage and heroism.

What is less obvious is that Edsa I was the culmination of several years of struggle against an increasingly oppressive two-term Marcos administration. One of the most readable narratives about this is Conrad de Quiros’ book “Dead Aim: How Marcos Ambushed Philippine Democracy.”

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Early this week, Kara Magsanoc Alikpala and her production team convened at Ateneo de Manila University for a special screening of the award-winning documentary “Batas Militar.” Over at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani, an updated version of Primitivo Mijares’ “The Conjugal Dictatorship of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos” was launched with a preface by his grandson, Joseph Christopher “JC” Mijares Gurango.
“Chronology of a Revolution,” “Dead Aim” and “Batas Militar” were funded, published and produced by the Eggie Apostol Foundation.

Foreign newspapers like the Los Angeles Times extensively covered Marcos’ arrival in Honolulu after fleeing Malacañang. David Holley reported on Feb. 27, 1986: “Former Philippine President Ferdinand E. Marcos arrived without ceremony Wednesday at a restricted airfield outside Honolulu to begin a life of exile, amid predictions from some American officials that he may stay here indefinitely.

“The entourage, which included Marcos’ former armed forces chief, Gen. Fabian C. Ver, and his wife, was greeted by Hawaii Gov. George Ariyoshi and his wife, Jean; by the commander of the Pacific Air Forces, Gen. Robert W. Bazley and his wife, Dolores; and by Hawaii state protocol officer Francis Lum.

“After first walking along the red carpet toward the waiting limousines, vans and buses, Imelda Marcos turned back toward the plane to pick up and carry a girl about three years old, apparently one of her grandchildren. The Marcoses were accompanied by their son, Ferdinand Jr., daughters Irene and Imee, and their families. Imee Marcos Manotoc’s sons were born in Hawaii in 1983 and 1985.”

All these works cited are impeccably crafted, and they all underscore the historical significance of Edsa I, but sometimes all it takes is one voice spoken from the heart. In her Facebook page, Abbey Hinto, who served as legislative officer of the late senator Joker Arroyo, has this to say: “Edsa wasn’t a failure. That people power brought down a dictator meant that it was a success. What happened after was our own doing and the governments we elected.

“Today, that democracy we earned 31 years ago is being threatened with the arrest of a staunch political opposition [figure] and the abuse of human rights, a chilling throwback to the Marcos years. I will be at Edsa to celebrate our democracy. I will be at Edsa because I refuse to be told to move on from our own history. I refuse to accept the rewriting of our history with the government’s simple celebration inside Camp Crame shunning the very people that made Edsa happen. I oppose that this government, rather than celebrating the power of the people, will celebrate the power of one man.”

Butch Hernandez ([email protected] gmail.com) is the executive director of the Eggie Apostol Foundation.

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